Category Archives: Federal Trade Commission

Is “regulation by enforcement” a pretext for less enforcement?

by Jeff Sovern The industry and some others often complain about "regulation by enforcement," by which I gather is meant that enforcement agencies bring actions against businesses without having previously given extremely clear notice that, in the agency's view, the conduct that is the subject of the action violates existing law.  Director Cordray's CFPB was […]

A Way for Consumer Agencies to Generate Thought on Issues of Interest

by Jeff Sovern A post inspired by a question I heard Kathleen Engel ask: every year second-year students ask professors for suggestions for topics to write about for law reviews. Law professors and other lawyers also cast about for article topics.  Meanwhile, administrative agencies often confront questions about what the law is or how it […]

Holding Facebook Accountable

According to a recent story from Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin at the Washington Post, “U.S. regulators have met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook” for violating a 2011 consent decree that settled charges that Facebook deceived consumers with regard to its privacy policies and practices. In March 2018, the Federal Trade Commission […]

Does an FTC commissioner click accept without reading? If practically no one reads these things, why do we hold people to them?

by Jeff Sovern Regular readers of this blog know that I collect instances of people agreeing to contracts without reading them. Among my examples: Chief Justice Roberts, Judge Posner, Hillary Clinton, and consumer law professors. Now I think we can add FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips to the list, though his remarks are ambiguous enough that […]

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

by Jeff Sovern Last Thursday, I posted on the blog Republican FTC Commissioners Name Payday Lender Lawyer to Run Consumer Protection Bureau Over Dem Commissioners' Objections.  Alan Kaplinsky posted in response A reply to Professor Sovern, in which he wrote that "Jeff’s characterization of Andrew as a “Payday Lender Lawyer” in the title of his blog post […]

FTC Commissioner McSweeny to Leave FTC Same Day Senate Scheduled to Vote on New Commissioners: April 28

Law360 has the story here. The other current FTC Commissioner, Maureen K. Ohlhausen, has been nominated to the bench and so will also leave soon. The Senate is to vote on four nominees–Joseph J. Simons, Rohit Chopra, Christine S. Wilson and Noah Joshua Phillips–on April 28th; the confirmation vote for a fifth nominee, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, has […]

Some Implications for Consumer Law on DOJ’s Policy Against Converting Guidance Into Binding Rules

by Jeff Sovern Last month, the Department of Justice issued a policy that as DOJ describes it in its announcement of the policy, "prohibits the Department of Justice from using its civil enforcement authority to convert agency guidance documents into binding rules." Times coverage is here. What implications does this have for consumer law? Strictly speaking, […]

FTC Consumer Bureau Acting Director Pahl: FTC Will Continue Going After the “Worst of the Worst”

by Jeff Sovern AccountsRecovery.Net reports on an interview, largely about debt collection, with the Acting Director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, Thomas Pahl, at a Receivables Management Association conference this week. Some excerpt: “It’s difficult to speak about where the agency is headed given the organization is changing,” Pahl said during his session, adding that […]